What Tesla calls “Full Self Driving,” which had seen a limited release to “careful” Tesla owners back on October, could see a wider release in two weeks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated as much on Twitter in response to a question about its availability in the state of Minnesota.
“Probably going to a wider beta in ~2 weeks,” Musk tweeted on Nov. 27.Related StoryTesla Now Testing ‘Full Self Driving’ in Traffic
The software, which Tesla has controversially called “Full Self Driving,” was activated in cars equipped with the required suite of radar and camera sensors just weeks prior, an $8,000 option before it went up to $10,000, inviting enthusiasm from some segment of Tesla owners and the tech community while also generating plenty of caution and skepticism in the automotive industry. The software itself had been promised by the Tesla CEO for years, and by its name alone certainly seemed to suggest something above Level 4 autonomy, but still requires drivers to stay alert, pay attention to the road and be ready to counteract potentially problematic actions taken by the software.
The so-called beta version of the software was released to users with a warning that it may do “the worst thing at the worst time,” which, among other things, did not sound to skeptics as something that should be called “Full Self Driving,” especially since the driver still needs to monitor the road and be ready to take over at a moment’s notice. The sensor suite has also been described as more limited than used by other advanced autonomous prototypes, which usually include Lidar laser scanners.
The limited release of the software soon prompted a note from the NHTSA, which pointed out that there are no cars for sale today that are capable of driving themselves, with the agency also indicating that it would monitor the roll-out of Tesla’s system. But NHTSA did not speculate just what types of events could prompt it to take some kind of regulatory action.Related StoryTesla Stops Selling $35,000 Model 3
By definition, FSD is considered to be a Level 2 system, because it still requires the driver to monitor the road. Therefore, it does not offer eyes-off capability (seemingly at odds with the goals of something advertised as “self driving”), which could otherwise allow for it to be classified as Level 3. A Level 3 system, on the other hand, is due to be offered in Japan in the Honda Legend sedan, which will allow drivers to take their eyes off the road until the system signals the driver to take over. While some debate still exists about the classification of FSD, it is generally agreed that it is not Level 4 by any stretch, and should not be treated by drivers as such.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk did not elaborate just how much wider the activation of the system will be in two weeks, but it’s worth noting that Tesla only extended the system to the more careful Tesla drivers, presumably as judged by the automaker remotely through an examination of driving behaviors.
We knew it wouldn’t be long after the Mini Cooper SE’s debut that we’d see a John Cooper Works version, and this week the Anglo-Germanic automaker has revealed that it is working on just such a vehicle.
But will we see them in this generation Cooper platform, or the next?Related StoryDoes the Mini Urbanaut Preview the Mini Traveller?
Mini says it is “working to develop concepts” for JCW models that are electric, amid plans to offer new gas and electric crossovers. The automaker is also working on a new electric city car that could be smaller in size than the basic Cooper hatch, in production since 2014. So there is still a role for gas-powered models to play in Mini’s lineup for the next few years, even as Mini redesigns much of its model range.
“John Cooper Works models with conventional combustion engines will still continue to have an important role to play, to make sure we’re addressing the wishes and needs of performance enthusiasts all around the world,” says Mini boss Bernd Körber. “With this new focus on electric performance, we’re also creating the opportunity to sharpen the distinctive profile of the John Cooper Works brand more than ever before.”
This mule is likely testing an EV based on the next-gen Mini Cooper range, rather than the current one.MINI
The debut of the Mini Cooper SE, on the other hand, should not be viewed as the next electric Mini JCW’s starting point. That’s because the SE was based on the 2014-generation gas-engined Coopers, due for replacement sometime in the first half of this decade. So Mini would not be seeking to launch an electric JCW model if today’s generation of hatches is in its final years on the shelf.
Rather, an electric JCW model is likely to debut in the next generation of Mini hatches alongside a new generation of the gas-engined JCW model, now rumored to land for the 2023 model year. So the prototype shown in these photos is a mule testing the performance of electric motors and other systems going into the next generation of electric Minis.
“With the Mini Electric, we’ve shown how well brand-typical driving enjoyment and electric mobility can be combined,” says Körber. “Now it’s time to translate the passion for performance of the John Cooper Works brand to electromobility. That’s why we’re working to develop concepts for electric John Cooper Works models.”Related StoryMini Plans EV Crossovers, but When Will They Land?
The Mini lineup is about to go through one of its biggest evolutions since BMW relaunched the former Rover Group model as a standalone brand, and electrifying the range is just one part of it. Entirely new models are on the way, including a crossover and a small MPV that could be badged as the Mini Traveller.
“Based on a new vehicle architecture, developed from the ground up for pure e-mobility, battery-electric vehicles will be produced in China from 2023, in cooperation with the local manufacturer Great Wall Motor,” the automaker said a month ago.
Loaded with every piece of driving, connectivity and autonomy technology in the Bavarian brand’s talent pool, the BMW iX will be released globally in the fourth quarter of 2021.
While full details haven’t been announced, the five-seat luxury SUV will be around the same length and footprint as the successful BMW X5, and will offer more than 600km of EV range on the WLTP cycle.
The BMW iX is slated to compete against the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-PACE, Mercedes-Benz EQC and Tesla Model X, while booming (at least in share value) Chinese start up Nio has made its ES8 a BMW target as well.Related Articles
“The BMW Group is constantly striving to re-invent itself. That is a central element of our corporate strategy,” BMW Chairman Oliver Zipse insisted. “The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form.”
The extra weight of a battery pack exceeding 100kWh of energy storage will not hurt its acceleration, with BMW claiming a sub-5.0sec figure for the sprint to 100km/h.
It shares much of its powertrain technology with the iX3 SUV, but it doesn’t share its mostly steel platform.
Instead, the BMW iX shows its affection for the seven-year-old i3 by using an aluminium spaceframe architecture and a carbon-fibre cage (Carbon Cage in BMW-speak), which is visible when the doors are open, as in the discontinued BMW i8. While expensive and extravagant, it’s not as overtly done as the i3’s chassis and body.
There’s no frunk, either, and because the washer fluid is topped up via a neck beneath the BMW badge on the nose, BMW has opted to give it a fixed clamshell bonnet.
While BMW’s full-frontal EV surge began with last month’s iX3 SUV, which arrives in the third quarter of 2021, the iX is the car BMW has promised would deliver the total measure of its EV abilities.
Developed from the concept car known as the iNEXT, the BMW iX will launch with 370kW of power from a pair of iX3 electric motors, delivering it more than 600km of range. That will translate to more than 300 miles of range on the US EPA’s FTP-75 test cycle.
That’s not all, because BMW has tested the powertrain with three motors from the 210kW iX3, delivering up to 530kW of power in prototype form, with two on the rear axle.
It doesn’t stop there though, because the iX will be capable of charging at up to 200kW, delivering a 10 to 80 per cent charge in under 40 minutes, or 120km of EV range in around 10 minutes.
The BMW iX takes the powertrain of the iX3 and lifts it further, because the iX3 has an 80kWh battery pack and the iX’s pack is “more than 100kWh”.
The downside of the bigger fuel tank is that the battery will by necessity weigh at least 650kg by itself, with BMW admitting the car will weigh at least 2.5 tonnes.
The upside is that the batteries are modular and at least 96 per cent recyclable, with each individual cell able to be accessed easily.
The all-wheel drive BMW iX uses a pair of the modular integrated power packs that debuted on the iX3, with the electric motor, power electronics and the single-speed gearbox all squeezed inside a single housing and mounted on the driven axle.
With the iX, that means one at the front and a more powerful one at the rear to retain a sportier, rear-biased feel in cornering.
With no rare-earth minerals in the lithium-ion batteries (and Australian- and Moroccan-sourced lithium), BMW has forced its suppliers to use green power to produce its batteries, saving 10 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
“Technology is driving the advances we need to tackle even the greatest challenges. This applies in particular to climate protection,” Zipse said.
“We are firmly convinced that mobility has to be sustainable if it is to represent a truly outstanding solution. For BMW, premium mobility is not possible without responsibility.”
Like most BMWs, the iX will come in two different customer ‘packs’, and there will be either standard or sports styling, with its more bravely structured front bumper.
It will use a similar wheel and tyre package to the gigantic X7, plus a host of aero-optimised rims, so 22-inch alloys with 275/40 rubber will be the dominant set-up.
The styling is intentionally calm and “monolithic” on the outside and it has clear links to the ground-breaking BMW i3 EV (and the REX range-extender, which is no longer available in Australia), with the glasshouse tapering off to a tab on the C-pillar.
The breaks with BMW traditions continue, with no L-shaped tail-lights (unless you squint into the LED lights) and no Hofmeister kink.
There is a version of the polarising grille language that the iNEXT debuted, then transferred to the 4 Series, though this one is far higher tech than the combustion-powered 4 Series could imagine.
Almost totally closed over, the grille is at once a radar receiver as well as hosting cameras and other sensors, and even has a self-healing technology that can repair minor scratches in 24 hours at room temperature.
A lot of that technology is aimed at edging drivers close towards being able to relax while the car does the work.
The headlights are full LED as standard or Matrix Laser LED as an option, and they’re the thinnest headlights BMW has ever used.
The doors are frameless and there has been a huge focus on aerodynamics as much as styling, to the point where the improved aero (a drag coefficient of 0.25Cd, which is draggier than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class) saves it 65km on the WLTP test.
It all sits inside a body made from a combination of aluminium and composite plastics, with a wrap-around clamshell tailgate at the rear.
There are some neat tricks, too, with the washer bottle filler neck hiding beneath the BMW badge on the bonnet, and the reversing camera (and its cleaning system) integrated into the rear logo.
To be built at the Dingolfing factory on the same production lines as the 5, 6, 7 and 8 Series, it will also be built later on the same production lines as the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 models, giving a strong hint that it has been designed around suspension and hard-point modules from the BMW family.
The unique platform of the iX goes against BMW’s insistence that it could deliver petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and EVs on the same FAAR (front drive) and CLAR (rear- and all-wheel drive) platform architectures.
The BMW iX3 sits on the CLAR architecture, and so will the i4, which will be an EV that will look like the upcoming second-generation 4 Series GranCoupe.
After what seems like an eternity, a BMW is finally carrying on the interior work of the i3 EV, which boasts one of the most striking, practical and innovative interiors in the car industry.
The most obvious departure here in the full five-seater is BMW’s all-new hexagonal steering wheel.
BMW doesn’t say why it now uses a hexagonal steering wheel, but it does.
BMW says it will hold rocker switches for gear selection and to control the information in the new 14.9-inch curved instrument cluster that’s hidden from the front passenger. It even has three-stage steering wheel heating.
There is also a 12.3-inch touch-screen multimedia screen in the centre of the dash, along with an enormous head-up display.
It’s governed by a next-generation operating system that tilts in favour of simplicity and minimalism, even down to the operation of its 2.5-zone automatic climate-control system.
“No other user interface on the market can be operated as simply and as safely as ours,” BMW’s director of development Frank Weber said. “In the BMW iX we have taken this to a new level with a new digital vehicle platform.”
Weber keeps circling back to what he calls Shy Tech, which is (for zee Chermans) a clever play on words to allude to high tech that remains in the background unless it’s needed.
There is the largest glass panoramic roof in the BMW universe at the top of the cabin, and it’s uninterrupted by bracing (thanks to the strength of the composite safety cell) and can even be electro-chromatic as an option.
The omission of the centre tunnel delivers an airy cabin, with generous legroom and all the displays are stripped to their bare essentials.
The sound system is a huge step forward, with the options of integrating speakers into the seats and even hiding them invisibly in the interior panels.
The top-level Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system delivers 30 speakers into the iX’s cabin, including eight in the headrests.
A whole new generation of computing has arrived in the BMW iX to go along with its advancements in AI and its data gathering.
The car’s computing power can process 20 times the data of the i3 or current BMW models, which it will need as it moves towards the self-driving that BMW hints at for the iX, but never reveals other than to say it’s Level 3-capable.
Its sensor suite has improved so much that the iX has to process double the amount of data than any BMW before it.
“The BMW iX has more computing power for data processing, more powerful sensors than the latest vehicles in our current portfolio, is 5G-capable, and comes with new and improved automated driving
and parking functions are maintained and used by the powerful fifth generation of our electric drive, ” Weber said.
Besides being 5G-capable, the iX’s computer system can process more than 30GB of data a second, and it has more than 30 antennae to send and receive information.
It’s capable of filling up a DVD with data every second, and it needs 5G to transmit that data to the AI swarm.
Banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 will create up to 32,000 jobs and grow the UK’s economy, a new report has suggested.
The Government has consulted on bringing the 2040 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engined cars forward to 2035 or even 2030, with an announcement of the final date due before the end of the year.
A new study published by Greenpeace UK claims a 2030 deadline would lead to the creation of 32,000 more jobs by that year, compared to if the ban were to be moved to 2035. The UK’s GDP, meanwhile, would rise by a further 0.2 per cent – equivalent to £4.2 billion – if a date of 2030 were chosen.
Employment increases and higher levels of economic activity resulting from the acceleration of the ban could also provide a £1.9 billion net increase in revenue for the Government by 2030, the study claims.
The report – written by economic analysis firm Cambridge Econometrics on behalf of Greenpeace – assesses the impact a 2030 ban would have on consumer spending, emissions, Government revenues, the car industry and the wider UK economy compared with a 2035 ban.Advertisement
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Although the ban could be brought forward to anywhere between 2030 and 2035, it’s understood that the former is a date that ministers have considered as it would allow the Government to more easily meet emission targets. It has been reported that the Prime Minister may announce the 2030 date for the ban as early as mid-November.
Implementing the ban in 2030 rather than 2035 would create thousands of new jobs directly linked to the faster transition to EVs, the report says. Some would be in relation to energy, battery manufacturing and a mass roll-out of charging infrastructure, but the majority would be in service industries such as retail, entertainment and leisure.
Increased economic activity is expected as a result of the lower running costs associated with EV ownership, as drivers would have more money to spare. Reduced demand for imported oil, and increased consumption of electricity generated in the UK, could also add money to national coffers.
Furthermore, the report suggests phasing out petrol and diesel cars early will allow the UK to position itself in such a way as to capture a larger share of both domestic and overseas car markets.
Doug Parr, director of UK policy at Greenpeace, said: “Now more than ever we need bold Government policies that create new jobs and economic growth, whilst driving the UK forward on climate action. Here… is one that will do just that, while making the UK a world leader in electric vehicle manufacturing. Delivered with the right policies, a 2030 phase-out really would be win-win all round.”
The analysis comes despite warnings from the UK car industry that moving the date of the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars forward to 2030 would be “devastating”.
Land Rover hopes to rejuvenate slumping sales of what was formerly one of its best-selling models by face-lifting the Discovery.
The Volvo XC90 rival benefits from a number of exterior revisions, an overhaul of its cabin technology and new mild-hybrid engine options.
It is available to order now, priced from £53,090, with deliveries due to start early next year. Although numerous, the changes to the large SUV’s styling are subtle.
New LED headlight clusters with a jewel-like design set the daytime-running lights lower, while sweeping indicators are introduced. A refreshed front bumper brings new side strakes, while an altered front grille aligns the car closer to the latest Discovery Sport. There are new wing vents on the sides, too, plus fresh wheel designs ranging from 19in to 22in.
At the rear, new-shape light clusters sweep around the back edge and are joined by a gloss black panel incorporating the Discovery badging.
The designers say that their intention, particularly at the rear, was to visually widen and lower the Discovery. However, the controversial offset numberplate remains.
Land Rover has also added a sportier-looking R-Dynamic model with a gloss black roof, trim, wheel arches and grille.
Inside, the changes to the Discovery mimic those seen on a number of recently updated Jaguar Land Rover models. The most significant is the introduction of the “faster, smarter and better connected” Pivi Pro infotainment system, which has a touchscreen that is 48% larger and three times brighter than its predecessor.
The system also features over-the-air software updates, plus the 360deg cameras with Clearsight Ground View that made their debut on the new Defender. Plus, the 12.3in digital dials are complemented by a new head-up display.
Other additions include Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a new wearable Activity Key, wireless phone charging, extra connectivity points throughout the cabin and a new air filtration system that can purify the car remotely via a phone app.
Furthermore, there’s a new-look steering wheel with haptic buttons and the second-row seats have been redesigned with contoured bases to improve comfort.
Here is the all-new 2021 Genesis GV80. This first SUV from the very young premium auto brand. It is a mid-size SUV built from the same platform as the Genesis G80 sedan. It competes with cars like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, and Mercedes-Benz GLE. At least it wants to compete there. You might be more tempted to cross shop a Lexus RX. Either way, it’s a sharp entry to the Genesis line-up.